Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
THE PASTOR OF HERMAS: Similitude First. As in This World We Have No Abiding City, We Ought to Seek One to Come.
Similitude First. 244
As in This World We Have No Abiding City, We Ought to Seek One to Come.
He says to me, “You know that you who are the servants of God dwell in a strange land; for your city is far away from this one. 245 If, then,” he continues, “you know your city in which you are to dwell, why do ye here provide lands, and make expensive preparations, and accumulate dwellings and useless buildings? He who makes such preparations for this city cannot return again to his own. Oh foolish, and unstable, and miserable man! Dost thou not understand that all these things belong to another, and are under the power of another? for the lord of this city will say, I do not wish thee to dwell in my city; but depart from this city, because thou obeyest not my laws. Thou, therefore, although having fields and houses, and many other things, when cast out by him, what wilt thou do with thy land, and house, and other possessions which thou hast gathered to thyself? For the lord of this country justly says to thee, Either obey my laws or depart from my dominion. What, then, dost thou intend to do, having a law in thine own city, on account of thy lands, and the rest of thy possessions? 246 Thou shalt altogether deny thy law, and walk according to the law of this city. See lest it be to thy hurt to deny thy law; 247 for if thou shalt desire to return to thy city, thou wilt not be received, because thou hast denied the law of thy city, but wilt be excluded from it. Have a care, therefore: as one living in a foreign land, make no further preparations for thyself than such merely as may be sufficient; and be ready, when the master of this city shall come to cast thee out for disobeying his law, to leave his city, and to depart to thine own, and to obey thine own law without being exposed to annoyance, but in great joy. Have a care, then, ye who serve the Lord, and have Him in your heart, that ye work the works of God, remembering His commandments and promises which He promised, and believe that He will bring them to pass if His commandments be observed. Instead of lands, therefore, buy afflicted souls, according as each one is able, and visit 248 widows and orphans, and do not overlook them; and spend your wealth and all your preparations, which ye received from the Lord, upon such lands and houses. For to this end did the Master make you rich, that you might perform these services unto Him; and it is much better to purchase such lands, and possessions, and houses, as you will find in your own city, when you come to reside in it. This is a noble and sacred expenditure, attended neither with sorrow nor fear, but with joy. Do not practice the expenditure p. 32 of the heathen, 249 for it is injurious to you who are the servants of God; but practice an expenditure of your own, in which ye can rejoice; and do not corrupt 250 nor touch what is anothers nor covet it, for it is an evil thing to covet the goods of other men; but work thine own work, and thou wilt be saved.”
[We have seen in Justin and Irenæus what seem to us an overstrained allegorizing, and more will be encountered in Origen. On this whole subject, however, as it struck the Oriental and primitive instincts, take the following very illustrative remarks, attributed to Hartley of Winwich:—
“Nature, in its proper order, is the book of God, and exhibits spiritual things in material forms. The knowledge of correspondences being so little understood, is one main cause of the obscurity of the Scriptures of the Old Testament, which were chiefly written by the rules of this science: and not Scripture alone, but man, also, as an image of the spiritual and natural worlds, contains in himself the correspondences of both: of the former, in his interior, and of the latter in his exterior or bodily, part, and so is called the microcosm, or little world.”
Such texts as Heb. 9:24, 1 Cor. ii. 13, 14, go far to explain to us the childlike faith of the Fathers. See note on Leightons St. Peter, p. 238, vol. iii. Ed. Of William West, B.A. 1870.]31:245
[Heb. xiii. 14 is the text of this very beautiful chapter. But he original Greek of Phil. iii. 20 seems, also, to be in the authors mind. St. Paul addressed it to the church of a Roman “colony,” whose citizenship was not Macedonian but Roman: hence its beautiful propriety.]31:246
This sentence may be also rendered thus, giving ἕνεκεν the meaning of “as regards,” “respecting”—a usual enough signification: “What then do you intend to do, as you have a law in your own city regarding your lands and the rest of your possessions?” The Vatican punctuates the passage so that it runs as follows: “What then will you do, who have a law in your own city? Will you, on account of your land, or any other of your preparations, be able to deny your law?” The Vatican also omits several clauses that are in the Greek, down to “for if thou shalt deny, and shalt desire to return,” etc.31:247
See … law, omitted in Lips. [The θρησκεία of Jas. i. 27.]31:248
The Vatican has: “Acquit widows, and do justice to orphans.”32:249
The Vatican renders, “Do not covet, therefore, the riches of the heathen.” [Here follows, in the Lambeth ms., an allusion to Luke xix. 15, which Wake renders: “Trade with your own riches.” See, also, Luke xii. 33.]32:250
The Vatican, rendering παραχαράσσετε, adulterare, proceeds as if the reference were to adultery. “Neither touch another mans wife, nor lust after her, but desire your own work, and you will be saved.”
Next: Similitude Second. As the Vine is Supported by the Elm, So is the Rich Man Helped by the Prayer of the Poor.
Like & share St-Takla.org
© Saint Takla Haymanout Website: Coptic Orthodox Church - Alexandria, Egypt / URL: http://St-Takla.org / Contact us at